Eli Peli, M.Sc., O.D.

Harvard Medical School

Professor of Ophthalmology
Co-Director, Mobility Enhancement and Vision Rehabilitation Center of Excellence

Schepens Eye Research Institute of Massachusetts Eye and Ear

Senior Scientist
Moakley Scholar in Aging Eye Research

Research Summary

Center/Research Area Affiliations


Dr. Peli's research spans the interface between engineering and ophthalmic/vision research. Specifically, he tries to understand how we see in the context of low vision rehabilitation. The application of his basic research findings fuels the development and evaluation of novel vision aids and methods for low-vision rehabilitation. For instance, he developed a metric for contrast in complex images that permits quantitative specification of contrast in images, which has been widely adopted. His research also includes eye movement analysis, binocular vision, image processing, image communications, and optics. His most recent work in low vision focuses on mobility and devices for mobility, including pedestrian mobility and driving.

Download his CV or biosketch [PDF] for more information.


M.Sc., Electrical Engineering, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology (1979)
O.D., New England College of Optometry (1983)

Postgraduate Training

Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, Schepens Eye Research Institute of Mass. Eye and Ear with Dr. George Timberlake (1983-1984)


2018: Harold Amos Faculty Diversity Award, Harvard Medical School Office for Diversity Inclusion & Community Partnership
2017: Charles F. Prentice Medal Award, American Academy of Optometry
2015: Bartimaeus Award, the Eye, the Brain, and the Auto conference of the Detroit Institute of Ophthalmology
2010: Edwin H Land Medal awarded jointly by the Optical Society of America and the Society for Imaging Science and Technology
2010: Otto Schade Prize, the Society for Information Display
2009: Alcon Research Institute award (shared with Dr. R. Massof)
2009: William Feinbloom Award, American Academy of Optometry
2006: Pisart Vision Award by the Lighthouse International
2006: Honorary Doctor of Science Degree, State University of New York (SUNY)
2004: Alfred W. Bressler Prize in Vision Science, the Jewish Guild for the Blind (shared with Dr. R. Massof)
2002: Honorary Degree of Master in Medicine, Harvard Medical School
2001: Glenn A. Fry Lecture Award, American Academy of Optometry
Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry
Fellow of the Optical Society of America
Fellow of the Society for Information Display (SID)
Fellow of the International Society of Optical Engineering (SPIE)

His Story

Dr. Peli is Senior Scientist and the Moakley Scholar in Aging Eye Research at Schepens Eye Research Institute of Mass. Eye and Ear, and Professor of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School. He also serves on the faculty of the New England College of Optometry (Adjunct Professor of Optometry and Visual Sciences) and Tufts University School of Medicine (Adjunct Professor of Ophthalmology). Since 1983, he has been caring for visually impaired patients as the Director of the Vision Rehabilitation Service at the New England Medical Center Hospitals in Boston.

Dr. Peli's principal research interests are image processing in relation to visual function and clinical psychophysics in low-vision rehabilitation, image understanding, and evaluation of display-vision interaction. He also maintains an interest in oculomotor control and binocular vision. Dr. Peli is a consultant to many companies in the ophthalmic instrumentation area and to manufacturers of head-mounted displays (HMDs). He served as a consultant on many national committees, advising the National Institutes of Health and NASA Aviation Operations Systems (AOS) Advisory Committee.


Research Interests

  • Driving with low vision
  • Model-based image enhancement for the visually impaired
  • Vision field expansion devices
  • Contrast perception and modeling
  • Head-mounted display as a low-vision aid
  • Blur detection
  • Perception, tolerance, and adaptation
  • Low-vision telescopes
  • Cortical reorganization in macular degeneration
  • Vision and eye movements
  • Stereoscopic display and visually induced motion sickness
  • Image decluttering for prosthetic vision
  • Testing and evaluation vision restoration

Contrast in Complex Images

Dr. Peli developed a metric for contrast in complex images that has been widely adopted. This permits quantitative specification of contrast, the most relevant visual parameter, in images. The contrast metric can also be used to simulate normal or low-vision. It was applied successfully in the development of image enhancement for the visually impaired (an area of research he pioneered) and in understanding visual function in wide field simulations.

Vision and Display Interaction

Dr. Peli is studying vision and display interaction in general, and the clinical aspects of head-mounted displays in particular. He has contributed to the understanding of how some optical parameters impact the comfort of users and conducted clinical research in the evaluation of these displays.

Novel Vision Aids

Dr. Peli has been applying all aspects of his basic research to the development and evaluation of novel vision aids and methods of low-vision rehabilitation, which is also his chosen area of clinical practice.

Eye movement, Image Processing, Image Communication, and Optics

Dr. Peli’s research also includes contributions to the areas of eye movement analysis, image processing, image communication, and optics. He has been a leader in the area of image processing of retinal images, developing optical and computational methods for enhancement of clinical images and quantitative analysis, ranging from measurements of retinal nerve fiber defects to the measurements of drusen in macular degeneration. In the area of eye movements, he has contributed to the understanding of eye movement control with peripheral vision, the analysis and modification of eye movements in binocular vision disorders, and the interaction of eye movement with the perception of displayed images. He developed a novel fiber optics reading magnifier, a calibration device for the confocal microscope, and an adjustable spectacle lens for presbyopia. He also introduced the use of circular polarizers in ophthalmic imaging.

His recent work in low vision is concentrating on mobility and devices for mobility. This includes pedestrian mobility and driving. He is studying both aspects in real-world studies, as well as in virtual environments (walking and driving simulators).

Current Research Funding

2013-2019 NIH/F31 EY023929-01: Mentor (Michael Stahl: Principal Investigator)
Structured light detection and delineation of tripping hazards
$237,760 Total Award
2013-2019  NIH R01 EY023385-01-05: PI
Visual field expansion through innovative multiplexing prism design
2014-2019  NIH R01 EY024075 PI
Measuring functional impact of oncoming headlight glare for cataract patients
2015-2019  NIH R01 EY024084 Co-Investigator (Phillip Matthew Bronstad, PI)
Strabismus in hemianopia

2016-2019  U.S. Department of Defense CDMRP MR141249 W81XWH-16-1-0033 PI
Active confocal imaging system for visual prostheses



47 (Google Scholar, as of September 2018)

Selected Publications

Dr. Peli has published more than 2100 peer-reviewed articles, 19 chapters, and 109 peer reviewed conference proceedings. He also edited a book, entitled Visual Models for Target Detection with special emphasis on military applications, and coauthored a book, entitled Driving with Confidence: A Practical Guide to Driving with Low Vision (co-authored with his brother Doron Peli). Below is a list of selected publications. View his publications on PubMed or Google Scholar.

  1. Peli E, Jung JH. Multiplexing prisms for field-of-view expansion. Optom Vis Sci. 2017 Aug;94(8):817-829
  2. Peli E. Contrast in complex images. J Opt Soc Am A. 1990 Oct;7(10):2032-40.
  3. Peli E. Vision multiplexing – an engineering approach to vision rehabilitation device development. Optom Vis Sci. 2001 May;78(5):304-15.
  4. Tang J, Kim JH, Peli E. Image enhancement in the JPEG domain for people with vision impairment. IEEE Trans Biomed Eng. 2004 Nov;51(11):2013-23.
  5. Bowers A, Keeney K, Peli E. Randomized crossover clinical trial of real and sham peripheral prism glasses for hemianopia. JAMA Ophthalmol. 2014 Feb;132(2):214-22.


Dr. Peli has been awarded 12 U.S. patents, 7 of which were translated into products on the market. View the complete list of his patents.


Current Members of Dr. Peli’s Laboratory

Visiting Scientists
Miguel A. Garcia-Perez, Ph.D
Susana Marcos, Ph.D.
Behnam Bastani, Ph.D.

Alex D. Hwang, Ph.D.
Jae Hyun Jung, Ph.D.
Matt Bronstad, Ph.D.

Postdoc Research Fellow
Zahide Pamir, Ph.D. 
Mahalakshmi_Ramamurthy, Ph.D. 

Senior Computer Analyst
Robert Goldstein, Ph.D.

Senior Engineer
Frank Rogers, B.S.

Research Assistants
Rachel Castle, B.A.
Mehmet Umut Canoluk, B.S.
Nish Mohith Kurukuti, B.Sc.

Research Fellows
Sailaja Manda, M.Sc.

Graduate Students
Michael Stahl, M.Sc. (Ph.D. Student, Biomedical Engineering)

Zhongpai Gao, B.Sc. (Ph.D. Student, Electrical Engineering)

High School Interns
Ethan Labianca-Campbell


More than 85 trainees have worked in Dr. Peli’s laboratory. View the complete list of alumni